Business & Finance

Rutgers ​Plans New Chapter for New Brunswick's Riverfront

5f6464f92bbd71e4914d_Raritan-River-Awards-580x385.jpg
Credits: Rutgers Office of Communications and Marketing
5f6464f92bbd71e4914d_Raritan-River-Awards-580x385.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For decades, the remaking of New Brunswick's riverfront has been a tug of war between historical and environmental conservationist​s​ on the one hand, and developers and city officials on the other.

The 2030 physical master plan for Rutgers University has ignited a potentially new chapter for the city's relationship with ​its ​river, in the​ ongoing​ efforts to reclaim the ​banks of the Old Raritan.

Following the expansion of Route 18 through New Brunswick, much of the city was cut off from the riverfront. This hadn't always been so.

Sign Up for E-News

A century ago, New Brunswick was a teeming port, a major stop along the Delaware & Raritan Canal, ​a critical connection ​between the East Coast ​with the Delaware River

As many as 200 tugboats would travel through the canal, according to the NJ Department of Transportation's Route 18 overview.

As for the city’s waterfront, docks and wharves lined the shore and factories pushed up against it. The Albany Street Bridge, as it headed into New Brunswick, met the teeming Hiram Market District, which makes up the city’s present-day Ward 2.



The New Brunswick downtown, with the Albany Street Bridge center left. Credit: Rutgers University 

But the canal closed in 1932, according to the NJDOT. Following the Second World War, New Brunswick underwent ​"​white flight,​"​ like many urban areas across ​New Jersey.

The city’s white, middle-class population, numbering in the thousands, ​moved to the ​fast-growing ​ suburbs, and the canal fell into disrepair.

Through the 1970’s, Route 18 was expanded up to the Albany Street bridge, burying large swathes of the canal under it. The Burnet Street neighborhood, then residential, became a spur of Route 18 south, allowing motorists to exit onto New Street and Commercial Avenue.

Hiram Square, by the 1970s, had also seen an economic downturn. Buildings fell into disuse and disrepair. Apartments, sometimes with only one or two bedrooms, would have upwards of a dozen residents crammed into them.

​Then, city officials launched what would become an historic and lasting redevelopment project, still evident and ongoing.​

Over the course of the ​1980s and 1990s, large chunks of Hiram Square were razed to make way for the Hyatt Regency Hotel, a ​massive modern building for the John​son​ & Johnson headquarters, and a collection of luxury apartments: all part of the auspicious redevelopment project by New Brunswick ​T​omorrow.

The Burnet Street neighborhood and abounded canal, taken from the Class of 1914 Boathouse. Credit: Rutgers University 

 A key was to tear down low-income high rises and replace the units with low-rise townhouse communities as part of a landmark Hope VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, awarded in the 1990s.​

Today, New Brunswick’s waterfront has ​signs of many successes

In 1999, the city opened Boyd Park, which turned several of the abandoned canals into bike paths which line up against the shore.

The $11 million park also provides fishing, an outdoor amphitheater, several docks and boat-launching points, and plays host to the Raritan River Festival every September. There’s also the starting point for the D&R Trail, which begins at the Landing Lane Brid​g​e.

​Comprising portions of the former canal converted into a bike path, the D&R Canal runs alongside the Raritan River for several miles into Somerset County. Yet these two points are difficult to access by car.

In November 2017, the city released it’s Municipal Access Plan, which looks at just how New Brunswick can further reclaim the riverfront through working with the ​university's ​2030 physical master plan.

The waterfront is zoned for conservation, and as such, the plan looks at how the city could u​se​ the ​treasured ​shore for recreational use.

In 2018, the university, according to Rutgers spokesperson Neal Buccino,​is hoping to work with the city on “improvements for open space and parkland along with Raritan River.”

The Rutgers 2030 Physical Master Plan, Credit: City of New Brunswick 

​T​he plan calls for a boardwalk that would stretch from the Class of 1914 Rutgers Boathouse by Boyd Park, all the way to the Route 27 bridge which traverses the Raritan River.

The boardwalk would hug the shore of the Raritan River, all the way to the start of the D&R Trail. There would be various access points through the city to get to the boardwalk.

On the College Avenue Campus, the university w​ould​ center around a large “heart of campus” quad, stretching from the College Avenue Gym to the Raritan River.

That would entail the demolition of the College Avenue Student Center, the Brower ​Commons dining ​h​all, the Student Activities Center, campus power plant and Records Hall, which contains a computer lab, post office and administrative officers.

At the edge of the quad would be a “transit hub,” with two pedestrian bridges spanning George Street. Going past the hub, students could traverse a serpentine bike path over the river and to Livingston Campus, through the ecological preserve.

​The project is ​now ​in its first phase, planning and design, which runs its course until 2020. Feasibility studies on the ​proposed ​Raritan River boardwalk and bike path will continue during this phase; actual construction is potentially decades off.

I want to ride my bicycle

A large chunk of the city’s access to the Raritan River was cut off in the 1980s, with the extension of Route 18 past the Albany Street Bridge, over George Street and then over the river by way of the John A. Lynch Sr. Memorial Bridge.

In response, the city and NJDOT constructed the Route 18 Trench Bikeway, a 1.4 mile blacktop bike path connecting the Albany Street Bridge and Landing Lane Bridge, according to the city’s municipal access plan.

On the river side, the path is flanked by a tall chain link fence, and on the Route 18 side, by a tall concrete wall.

You might notice the entranceway to the path as you travel south on Route 27 into New Brunswick; it’s the colorful graffiti mural on the ramp connecting Route 18 North and Route 27 South.

As the municipal access plan points out, the path is poorly lit and heavily wooded, difficult to see ahead due to poor sightlines and and the paths gradual curve.

The area occasionally has homeless encampments​. T​raveling along the paths, you’d find traces of the encampments: sleeping bags, shopping carts and tents. Graffiti lines the walls, while litter and weeds cake the footpath.

Access points to the trail are set up along Deiner Park, which was built in conjunction with the bike path. It was constructed and then maintained by the ​state​ Department of Transportation, and is now maintained by Rutgers​ University.​

At most, the park is u​sed​ by students for the basketball and tennis courts. Entranceways connecting the park and the trail are gated and locked, and not handicap accessible.

Rutgers​ University's​ proposed boardwalk would ​replace the bike path, according to the master plan.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz, dmunoz@tapinto.nettwitter.com/DanielMunoz100

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Honoring Sacrifice and Service on Memorial Day

May 25, 2018

On Monday, May 28, 2018, our Nation celebrates our most solemn event, Memorial Day.  In Berkeley Heights tradition, we will honor those who sacrificed themselves so that we may continue to live in the greatest country on earth.  I invite all residents to join us for the parade festivities and, most importantly, gather at our Veteran’s Park for a brief ceremony.

America has ...

Logic and Sensible Spending Take Priority

Logic.  It's what people use when endeavoring to complete things in the most sensible order.  Everyone knows that "logic" means sequencing events in a formulaic, predictable manner.  We learned this at a young age, as we observed Star Trek on TV and came to understand why Captain James T. Kirk relied on Spock as his first officer because his strategic plans were ...

I will draw on my experience to deliver a great future for Berkeley Heights

I am impressed with the day-to-day leadership of our Mayor and Town Council and I hope to help them continue to do great work. As I have been doing my research since deciding to run for a seat on our Town Council, I have learned a few things about all the work that has been happening in recent years.  For example, while plans for the Stratton House development were recently announced, our ...

How the Holi Color Festival Came to Summit; Event Planner Shares Her Story

May 21, 2018

Back in India, Holi was a holiday observed by almost all states. The holiday would be declared at all educational institutes and offices. It's a two day spring festival also known as the festival of colors. The festival signifies the victory of good over bad, the arrival of spring with the fragrance of flowers in the air and aura of warmth and happiness.

Holi festival is the time ...

Rain Didn't Dampen Our Vision for Art in the Park

The rain did not dampen our vision for Art in the Park!! Columbia Middle School was transformed into an art paradise, filled with an array of artists whose talents are nothing short of magical! The Peppertown Park Art in the Park Committee would like to thank all of the artists who came to our very first Art in the Park event. We are in awe of your creativity and immeasurable talents! You all ...

A Better Summer with the Y: Join by May 31 and Have Your Joiner Fee Waiver!

May 25, 2018

From now through the end of May, new members joining the Berkeley Heights YMCA will have their joiners fee waived, because at the Y we believe that everyone deserves to reach their health and wellness goals. With a savings of up to $95, you can focus on the perks of being a Berkeley Heights YMCA member:

Unlimited attendance to more than 100 group fitness classes a week
• State of ...

Red Cross Shares 20 Ways to be Safe This Summer

Download free Red Cross Apps to have safety information at your fingertips

The upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend is the unofficial start of summer when many people will begin traveling, firing up the grill, and enjoying swimming and other water-related activities. The American Red Cross wants everyone to have fun and offers 20 things people can do to be safe all summer ...

Union County Offers Free Traffic Safety Education Programs throughout the Summer

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites parents and caregivers to attend any of the upcoming Union County Police Department Traffic Safety Education programs to learn about car and bike safety equipment for children.

“As children start to spend more time outside and the summer travel season approaches, now is the time for parents and caregivers to ensure they are wearing ...

Gov. Livingston Hilltop Players Host Annual Relay Cabaret, May 31

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Hilltop Players will be hosting their annual Relay Cabaret at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 31 in the GL cafeteria. It is a night of songs, scenes, monologues, and dances from famous plays and musicals. We ask for donations at the door, and all funds raised will go to Relay for Life in the memory of our beloved technical director, Kenneth ...

Fallout Continues from Lawsuit Against Mountainside; Police Chief on Administrative Leave

May 19, 2018

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Police Chief Allan Attanasio is the latest member of the police department to suffer repercussions from a complaint filed against the borough on May 11.  Attanasio, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was “placed on administrative leave,” on Thursday by Borough Administrator and former Police Chief James Debbie, said  Lt. Joseph ...

Video Shows School Board Member In Altercation With Police at Traffic Stop in South Orange

May 16, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Orange Maplewood School Board Member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad got into an altercation with a South Orange police officer who stopped her for speeding last month, in which she used profanity, complained when she was issued a ticket and called South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll “a skinhead cop.”

Lawson-Muhammad also appeared to suggest that she would ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, May 25, 9:30 AM

Junior League of Summit Thrift Shop, Summit

Here Comes Summer! Junior League of Summit Thrift ...

Giving Back Green

Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Miller-Cory House Museum, Westfield

Aunt Carrie's Attic Sale

Giving Back Other

Sat, May 26, 11:00 AM

Home For Good Dog Recue, Berkeley Heights,

Dog Adoption

Other

Sat, May 26, 2:00 PM

New Providence

Memoir Writing Workshops @ NPML

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, May 31, 11:30 AM

Canoe Brook Country Club, Summit

Fortnightly Club Scholarship Luncheon

Food & Drink Giving Back

Thu, May 31, 1:30 PM

Coppola Ristorante, New Providence

Lunch and Learn: Dental Implants and the ...

Health & Wellness

The Evaluation of the College Search

It’s is a bizarre time of year as a college counselor as I find myself at both the beginning and end of this process.  Sophomores and juniors are excitedly and idealistically starting to consider what will be important to them in a school.  At the same time, while only separated by a year or two, my seniors have all committed within the past month to a school and have spent the ...

How to Design Your Ideal Retirement

Would you like to design your ideal retirement? Where do you begin? First of all, what does retirement mean to you? If you’re in a relationship, does retirement mean the same to you as it does to your partner? Do you know if your “ideal retirement” is affordable or just a pipe dream?

In past generations, retirement planning didn’t involve very much. You stopped work ...

Don’t Make These Three Mistakes About Social Security

Social Security has been around for decades and it’s not about to disappear. Why? Social Security is not an entitlement ("gift") that can be taken away - it’s a forced savings scheme that Americans pay into in their working years in order to secure a pension for life. Ideally, Social Security should not be your sole source of income in retirement but even comfortable ...